Knowledge Forum

Over the years CRB has pioneered multi-stakeholder sustainability fora for engagement on sustainable business related issues in some sectors and thematic areas. While CRB has facilitated the establishment of some of these fora, in partnership with like-minded organisations, a few others are planned in the near future. Some ground-work on these fora, have already been undertaken. The purpose of these fora is to facilitate common learning and actions related to best practices on sustainable business practices in India, and to ensure better alignment with voluntary sustainability standards that are being promoted and implemented across industry sectors.

CRB draws its knowledge base from a strong network of accomplished national and international sustainability practitioners and initiatives, including :-

  • UN Forum on Sustainability Standard
  • Global Reporting Initiative
  • Bureau of Indian Standards
  • Consumer Information Programme of UNEP-10YFP Programme
  • Indian Institute for Corporate Affairs
  • Quality Council of India (QCI)

With a growing population, the drive for economic growth and rapidly changing demographics and lifestyles, the pressure on India’s water resources is rapidly increasing. India being a country that extracts more groundwater than any other nation and treats only 9% of its wastewater; progressive companies are taking action by working with a range of organizations to advance water stewardship. Water stewardship engages water users in sustainable management of a shared resource in the public interest through collective action at a site, watershed and basin level.

The framework for implementing water stewardship is the globally endorsed AWS Standard which defines best practice in terms of progresses (contextual, understanding, transparency and stakeholders’ engagement) and sets four clear outcomes of good water stewardship:

  1. Good water governance
  2. Sustainable water balance
  3. Good water quality
  4. Healthy “Important Water Related Areas” (ecosystems and cultural sites)

To advance water stewardship in India, and ensure Indian priorities and experiences are connected to global developments, several leading organizations have taken the initiative to establish the India Water Stewardship Network (IWSN). The IWSN seeks to

  • Ensure broad based and multi-stakeholder engagement in water stewardship in India
  • Drive uptake of the water stewardship in India
  • Support fundraising for, and implementation, of water stewardship projects in India
  • Connect Indian water stewardship to the global AWS network

It is widely known that sustainability and related issues are getting an increasing reference in trade and investment related discussions and processes.

There is little doubt, therefore, that an exchange of ideas and good practices and thought leadership between India and its trade and investment partner countries on business sustainability and responsible business would be mutually beneficial. The Indo-Dutch trade volumes show a steady increase since 2000, which is a sound indicator of the positive trade and investment relations between the two. The Netherlands is ranked fourth among India’s top FDI investing partners, and as the sixth most important trading partner.

As major trade partners both the countries also has a clear responsibility for social and inclusive sustainable supply chains.

Keeping this in view, The Embassy of Netherlands in India initiated the INDUS-FORUM project with CRB to facilitate dialogue and thought leadership on Sustainable business between India and The Netherlands, with the aim of aligning it with the growth of industry, society and economies of both the countries.

Internationally, the most significant development in this process was the endorsement on June 16, 2011 by the Human Rights Council of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) for implementing the UN “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework which was developed during the period of the mandate (2005-2011) of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General. As a result of this process, there is greater clarity today about the respective roles and responsibilities of Governments and Business with regards to the protection and respect for human rights. Today, all key international and business responsibility frameworks refer to human rights and are increasingly aligned with the requirements of the UNGP. In addition, the UN Working Group strongly encourages all States to develop enact and update a national action plan on business and human rights as part of the State responsibility to disseminate and implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Human Rights are not new to India; from ancient times to the birth of independent India, its various faiths and philosophical systems have espoused human rights. In 1948, India played a key role in developing and adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and followed this with the adoption of the Constitution of India, and its articulation of Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy. In more recent times, the Government of India enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission. In addition, several recent laws, including the Right to Information and the Right to Education Acts, demonstrate India’s commitment to Human Rights. India is also fortunate to have excellent civil society organisations that promote the awareness and realization of human rights, especially for the excluded and marginalized sections of society. Despite all of the above, the challenges of making all citizens aware of their Rights remains an enormous challenge that cannot be met without the active participation of Business. In this regard, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, in 2011, released the National Voluntary Guidelines (NVGs) for Business, wherein one of its Nine Principles of Business Responsibility is devoted to Human Rights.

Taking the context into account, CRB is incubating The Human Rights & Business Resource Group (HRBRG) comprising of individuals with a diverse range of Human Rights experience united by a shared interest and commitment to contribute to the advancement of the Corporate Responsibility to respect Human Rights. The group envisages adoption of policies and practices that respect Human Rights by all businesses. This is done by engaging the businesses and other stakeholders in a constructive dialogue to advance Human Rights.